If you’re getting tired of the same old, same old when it comes to taking kid’s portraits, consider staging a “re-creation” this year. Whether from your favorite book, TV show, historical event, or movie (or theirs), recreation is a terrific way to focus your creative energies, engage your kids, and end up with fantastic photos. Here are a few tips to get started:
Tip One: Select a “Scene”
In order to set you up for your recreation project, you must narrow down what scene you would like to recreate. For your first project, choose something simple that only requires a few pieces. Here are some places to start:
- Your favorite movie/TV show, whether old or new
- Your child’s favorite movie, character, or scene from a movie
- A character in a book
- A scene from history
Not sure what to “replicate”? Try Pinterest, you’ll find lots of cute ideas for recreations. Once you find a scene, save a few photos and start making a list of what you’ll need: furniture, backgrounds, props, costumes, etc.
Tip Two: Source Props
Ideally, your chosen scene includes a few readily-available props. If not, you’re going to have to spend some time at thrift stores or online to find what you need. It could be as easy as a black umbrella and pea coat, or might require furniture and other props. In a pinch, you might be able to build a few props out of painted cardboard.
If you have other mom photographers, send out a quick email to see if they have anything suitable that you could borrow. Otherwise, you might need to get a bit creative with materials and a sewing machine to be able to recreate the scene you have in mind.
Tip Three: Involve your Kids
If they’re old enough, let your kids be involved in the process. You can show them photos and they can help choose props or put together costumes. By letting your kids engage in your project you’ll have more cooperation and a better overall experience.
Tip Four: Scout a Location
Depending on the scene you choose, you might need a room indoors, or somewhere outdoors to set up. Summer is an excellent time to take on an outdoor re-creation since you can reasonably expect to have a few days of dry weather for setting up, shooting, and take down. Again, you might want a bit of assistance to find a location where you are not going to disturb locals – perhaps you know someone with a large yard or field you could rent for a few days?
Tip Five: Bring the Right Equipment
At a minimum you’re going to want the following:
- Reasonably good camera (even a good camera phone will do it in a pinch)
- Wide angle lens (so you can get the whole scene)
- Portrait lens
- Tripod (so you can set up and walk away to make adjustments)
For the best results, there are a few other pieces of equipment you might want to consider:
- Reflector (great for balancing light)
- Flash (probably not needed, but can “fill in” shadows, if needed)
- Extra lighting: You might want to add backlight, sidelight, etc.
- Additional memory cards/batteries, just in case
Tip Six: Choose the Right Camera Settings
Finally, make sure your camera is set up to record your scene in the best possible manner. A “fast” shutter speed isn’t strictly necessary, but you do want it to be quick enough to cut any blur caused by your kids moving around (and you want them to move around, a bit). For seated shots, start with 1/100s and check for blur before moving on. If kids are up and walking, jumping, dancing, you might want to bump it up to 1/250s, just in case.
Unless you are doing straight kid’s portraits (i.e. face only), keep the aperture in the middle range (f/8, for example) so you can capture all the details.
Final tip – Take a few photos and then swap out memory cards and check on your laptop (if possible). Make sure that your settings are working for you. The last thing you want is to spend a whole day setting up and taking kid’s photos of your recreation only to find out your settings were wrong!